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The Lost Spells

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The follow-up to the internationally bestselling sensation The Lost Words, The Lost Spells is a beautiful collection of poems and illustrations that evokes the magic of the everyday natural world.

Since its publication in 2017, The Lost Words has enchanted readers with its poetry and illustrations of the natural world. Now, The Lost Spells, a book kindred in spirit and tone, continues to re-wild the lives of children and adults.

The Lost Spells evokes the wonder of everyday nature, conjuring up red foxes, birch trees, jackdaws, and more in poems and illustrations that flow between the pages and into readers’ minds. Robert Macfarlane’s spell-poems and Jackie Morris’s watercolour illustrations are musical and magical: these are summoning spells, words of recollection, charms of protection. To read The Lost Spells is to see anew the natural world within our grasp and to be reminded of what happens when we allow it to slip away.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2020

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About the author

Robert Macfarlane

88 books3,117 followers
Robert Macfarlane is a British nature writer and literary critic.

Educated at Nottingham High School, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford, he is currently a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge.

Robert Macfarlane is the author of prize-winning and bestselling books about landscape, nature, people and place, including Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (2003), The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012), Holloway (2013, with Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards), Landmarks (2015), The Lost Words: A Spell Book (with the artist Jackie Morris, 2017) and Underland: A Deep Time Journey (2019). His work has been translated into many languages, won prizes around the world, and his books have been widely adapted for film, television, stage and radio. He has collaborated with artists, film-makers, actors, photographers and musicians, including Hauschka, Willem Dafoe, Karine Polwart and Stanley Donwood. In 2017 he was awarded the EM Forster Prize for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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5 stars
2,233 (64%)
4 stars
908 (26%)
3 stars
289 (8%)
2 stars
33 (<1%)
1 star
15 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 731 reviews
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,099 reviews44.1k followers
April 21, 2022
The Lost Spells is a celebration of the natural; it is a collection of prose poetry about foxes and trees and birds and rabbits and flowers: it is an elegy to what we are losing and what we must try to retain.

It’s educational; it’s a book we should give to our children and to our adults to help them see the sense of wonder that is outside, and its captured perfectly though the power of words and the beautiful illustrations.

I write these words as our green spaces are reducing, as more land is given over to housing and native animal populations plummet even further and perhaps even into memory itself. I wonder what the world will be like in fifty years. I wonder if the only way people can learn about the natural world is through books rather than observing her directly. Sure, there might be reserves, or isolated pockets, but I think one day there will be nothing natural left about modern life (if there is, indeed, anything natural about it now.)

I loved this book; it’s a book I will revisit and a book I will encourage others to read because despite increasing decline and modernisation, the natural world is still on our doorstep: she is still there if we are willing to look and to appreciate her. Lets make an effort to understand her magic and (better yet) keep it alive.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,848 reviews3,363 followers
April 1, 2021
A few years ago, these two authors teamed up to create The Lost Words after the OUP dictionary had removed several nature words. Personally, I was downright angry - especially when they justified their action by saying that the words had become unimportant. So the authors created and published an incredibly pretty book containing the removed words. The poems, or "spells" as they called them, that they used were meant for children but the book has since become something of a phenomenon that got a soundtrack as well as card games (and more, I'm told).

For me, personally, that book was beautiful but too large (impractical) and seeing this new collaboration, I probably wasn't the only one.

This, then, is a smaller book, but thicker. And in no way less beautiful. If anything, I actually found the illustrations in this one even more gorgeous than in the previous book.

The love of and for nature that Macfarlane and Morris are feeling is palpable - and infectuous. I also found myself learning the odd thing or two while reading their books.

The "spells" are utterly charming and I found myself relaxing in a very special way when reading this book - not many books manage that. So yes, this is an oasis of calm, celebrating the majestic beauty of nature.
Profile Image for Carolyn Marie Castagna.
264 reviews5,264 followers
January 5, 2021
There is one word that describes this book perfectly, and that word is: enchanting!
Enchanting literally means "to put under a spell." Now I'm sure you can see why I think "The Lost SPELLS" is utterly enchanting!
I discovered Robert Macfarlane (the brilliant wordsmith and author) and Jackie Morris near the end of last year. I was researching environmentalist writing and illustration for my own personal interest in the subject, and that's when I stumbled upon them! I watched countless interviews, book tour videos, and lectures given by Robert Macfarlane. I was infatuated by the way he spoke about his explorations. It felt like finding a kindred spirit, someone else who is as marveled by the natural world as I am! In some of the videos, he read aloud a few of his poems, spells, and environmental nonfiction. As I listened to him read, I knew I had to read everything he's ever written!
Something special happened in my mind and heart when he read out his spells. It was hearing the combination of the beauty of wildlife and the lyricism or melody of each word, that set my mind on fire in a sense! That's when I knew my first Robert Macfarlane book had to be the lost spells!
And as if the book couldn't get any better, it is filled with the most stunning watercolor illustrations of all the beautiful wildlife Robert Macfarlane is writing about!
As some of you may know, I'm an illustrator myself, and one of my favorite things to illustrate is wildlife, nature and landscapes.
So you couldn't be more right in saying that this book is the book of my dreams!
What a way to start the new year!
Profile Image for Paul.
2,101 reviews
November 20, 2020
When the Lost Words was released back in 2017 no one ever thought that it would become a phenomenon in its own right. It was conceived after the OUP dictionary removed several words relating to the natural world and Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris collaborated to produce a stunningly beautiful book that could teach children these words again. The poems or ‘spells’ from that book were put to music and there have been jigsaws and even a game.

This second book that takes the things that worked so well in the first book, the prose and Morris’s exquisite artwork and have packaged them into the more compact version here. As in the first book they have picked animals, plants and insects such as barn owls, moths, oak goldfinches and swifts and many others that have a few verses or lines of prose and then several pages of pictures.

I did like it a lot, Macfarlane’s prose has been deliberately written to be read out loud by parents and children and relies on repetition and rhythm and often onomatopoeia to bring these creatures alive in the pages of this book. It did amuse me that this is described as pocket-sized, whilst it is much more manageable than the first edition, you would still need a fairly large pocket to carry it around in. It is a stunning book, and that is mostly because of Jackie Morris’s artwork, it is so full of life. I did like the glossary at the end of the book with images of all the creatures to be found by the eager young naturalist.
Profile Image for Ideas are bulletproof .
105 reviews62 followers
February 20, 2022
I am Red Fox — Why do you need me?
I am your double,
your ghost, your other,
The spirit Of Wild,
the spirit Of weather,
Red is my fur and
red is my art,
And red is the blood
Of your animal heart.

The Lost Spells is a beautiful and an enticing collection of poems about nature and it highlights the importance of certain species without which the world's functioning would go haywire. There are some things in nature which we ignore quite completely and they are shown beautifully in this book with many attractive illustrations and poems that gave me goosebumps. It's a very short read, even though the book looks bulky, as most of the space is filled in by illustrations that take your breath away.

I can't recommend this book enough!

Profile Image for Andrew.
2,114 reviews
October 9, 2022
I have to say that after the simple charm and beauty of the Lost Words I had high hopes for this book and I have to say I was not disappointed.

Based on the full colour (and often 2 page) water colour paintings of Jackie Morris the words of Robert Macfarlane take on a beauty all of their own - as the book introduction states the book is filled with prose - "spells" if you like that are reflected in the art. These are words on the beauty and simplicity of the natural world around us - one which is slowly disappearing.

This is a book that reminds me of my youth, of watching the natural world around me, feeling the rhythms of the seasons go about their timeless dance while I am just a bystander in this never ending dance - although sadly it does appear that the end if not approaching is certainly giving that impression.

So best appreciate it while you can - and books like this most certainly encourage you to do so before it is too late
Profile Image for Deborah.
731 reviews47 followers
May 22, 2021
I had been wanting to read this after loving The Lost Words. The illustrations are gorgeous but the poetry and spells were not as alluring. 3.5 stars.

I did like the Oak as excerpted below:

“Poplar is the whispering tee,
Rowan is the sheltering tree,
Willow is the weeping tree –
and Oak is the waiting tree.”

“Birch is the watching tree,
Cherry is the giving tree,
Ash is the burning tree –
and Oak is the waiting tree.”

“Hollow is the witching tree,
Beech is the writing tree,
Elder is the quickening tree –
and Oak is the waiting tree.”

“Three hundred years to grow,
three hundred more to thrive,
three hundred years to die –
nine hundred years alive.”
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,508 reviews2,508 followers
March 8, 2021
The contents are just as lovely as those of The Lost Words, but this time they’re in a volume that fits nicely in the hand instead of being the most ungainly book in your collection and a constant challenge to shelve. (At the library where I volunteer, it lies flat along the top of the first set of shelves in the children’s section.) Many of the poems are still acrostics, but the rules feel looser overall, allowing for longer sequences and some playful scenes, such as in “Woodpecker,” a cute dialogue between the busy bird and a badger trying to get some sleep. “Curlew” and “Beech” were two of my favorites. Some of the others I’d read before because they accompanied The Lost Words: Spell Songs, the book that came with the musical project (“Goldfinch,” “Grey Seal,” “Heartwood,” and “Snow Hare”; some lines from “The Silver Birch: A Lullaby” also make it into the final track, “The Lost Words Blessing”).

Favorite lines (from “Gorse”): “Each of us is partly made of Gorse, of course; prickly, cussed, hard to parse / and tough to handle, all helter-skelter points and angles – but only ever really / seeking love and giving shelter.”
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,821 reviews1,323 followers
September 4, 2022
Elder is the quickening tree –
and Oak is the waiting tree.

I enjoyed this in a circumscribed manner. The focus of the verse was limited and thus was my approach. These are nature poems with accompanying images. Many are endangered. There is an easy air here which allows sophistication in terms of classification. The line bends to the subject. The verse exhaled and perhaps flexed in appraisal. I was impressed. Illustrations don't unfortunately enhance much of my reading.
Profile Image for Tracy.
603 reviews21 followers
December 7, 2020
I picked this up from the library and the librarian said to me, “Such a pretty book.” It is so pretty and small enough to fit in your pocket...small enough to take with you for a walk in the woods. Beautiful. I think this needs to be mine.
Profile Image for Penelope.
489 reviews115 followers
September 12, 2020
The Lost Words was one of my favourite books of 2017 with its evocative words and spellbinding images created by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. With 'Lost Spells' we are once again treated to this heavenly pairing and graced with another beautiful book with the power to stir even the hardest of hearts. Smaller in format than 'Lost Words', but no less impressive for that, it's the ideal size to hold in your hand or pop in a pocket. Macfarlane's poems/spells are filled with the rhythms of the natural world, amd are perfect to read aloud if the mood should take you. Accompanied by Morris' glorious artwork which bring the words alive and opens doors to world imaginings. Spells of charms, spells of protections, spells of loss, and spells of celebrations are all here just waiting to spoken and their power released into the world.
Profile Image for Gertie.
14 reviews
December 18, 2020
I read the poems - spells! - aloud (as advised) and I can’t even tell you how much joy they brought!!! Gorgeous gorgeous. Excuse the pun, but these are spellbindingly delicious. I will read again and again and again.
Profile Image for Fern Adams.
777 reviews45 followers
April 16, 2021
This is such a good book that when I reached the last page I returned to the beginning and started it over again.
Profile Image for ~☆~Autumn♥♥☔.
849 reviews48 followers
July 19, 2021
The most fabulous thing about this book are the beautiful water colors. Get this book if you are behind on your challenge. Marie, your daughter could do this book as her work is as lovely.
Profile Image for Gina.
531 reviews
January 7, 2021
I received this book as a gift and in the card attached, the giver expressed that she thought this was the most beautiful book of 2020. She was absolutely right. Treat yourself to this treasure of a book.
Profile Image for Alex Sarll.
5,608 reviews223 followers
September 20, 2020
The sequel to The Lost Words – the only Macfarlane book I've not read, despite it quite possibly being his best seller (I always assumed I'd happen across a copy in a library one day, back when that was still a thing that happened). These are intended as summonings to bring back the natural world, which made me a little puzzled why the book would begin with fox, moth, daisy – surely ones to file alongside humans, ants and the coronavirus among the few life-forms still in ample supply in 2020s Britain. But it makes sense to start a grimoire easy, doesn't it, before moving on to the more rarely seen beasts, the hares and curlews? I can see how the poems would be joys to read aloud, evoking as they do the chitter-chatter of jackdaws, the effortless twists and turns of swifts. Jackie Morris' pictures are a perfect complement, with just that mixture of the cosy and the numinous (the Estonians have a word for it) that I always love in nature illustrations. The overall mood is often bittersweet, as how couldn't it be given what we've done to nature, but most of all celebratory - and at least once, in the dialogue between woodpecker and badger, which could almost be a children's book unto itself, very funny.

(Netgalley ARC)
Profile Image for Natasha.
Author 63 books109 followers
November 3, 2020
The book itself is gorgeous. The inky blue cover, the paintings of nature, are stunning! I think the magic with this book is in the art and book design versus the spells and poems and such. It might have been the mood I was in, but I was expecting more magicalness from the text and instead I found my rhythm thrown off when I read most of the mix of poems, blessings, etc. I will try again though since the world you enter with the watercolors is worth revisiting. The book could be used by high school teachers to have students put their own poems to the illustrations.
Profile Image for R. G. Nairam.
696 reviews38 followers
March 31, 2021
12 October review: I don't know if this book will be as dear to me as the first, but there are poems about oak and birch, and I can't wait to see what happens with re-reading.

also, there's a /mini field guide/
Profile Image for Hannah Flowers.
76 reviews21 followers
January 30, 2022
Very few books are just so immersive and beautiful that when they end I immediately go back to read it again. This is one of those rare books, especially when paired with the two albums “Spell Songs” have made of these poems set to music. I can’t wait to revisit this book again and again (and outside once the weather is better!).
Profile Image for Rose.
77 reviews2 followers
April 8, 2021
“But my world takes years to grow and seconds to crash”

For this sentence alone I’m glad to have read this. WOOW I always put off reading this but it’s so cute. Made me cry that’s all you need to know!
Profile Image for Lovely Day.
581 reviews75 followers
May 30, 2022

As soon as I saw the incredible watercolour illustrations in this book a had high hopes.
Unfortunately, the poetry is not the best. I did like a few of them, but overall, there was way to much rhyming and alliteration that made almost every line a tongue twister.
Profile Image for Katy.
1,870 reviews149 followers
January 5, 2021
A beautiful book, find someone to read it aloud.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,792 reviews106 followers
April 21, 2022
Picked this one up to read during National Poetry Month (April), and it is fantastic.

The writing and the art are both lovely, and wonderfully complement each other. Plus the physical object is a joy to read. If you are a fan of nature writing (poetry) and art, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy.

Loved every minute with this one, and went back to look at the art several times. Have no idea why I have yet to read Macfarlane - I already have all his books. Well, with this one, I'm moving him up my TBR. What a delight.
15 reviews
September 11, 2022
Brilliant precious book I can't wait to share and re read with loved ones. I'm in awe of the words and illustrations. Reminds me of the wonder of reading I felt as a child.
Profile Image for Jilly.
446 reviews3 followers
December 3, 2020
This is such a beautiful book. The illustrations are just delightful and the accompanying poems are wonderful. My favourite is ‘The Jackdaw’. There’s so much to enjoy. Thank you to Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris, Net Galley and Penguin Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Gina Johnson.
474 reviews10 followers
March 28, 2021
Beautiful “spoken word” type poetry. Really great rhythm. This is from the authors of Lost Words which is a picture book about common nature words that children (especially city children) are loosing because they have no reference for them. The illustrations are stunning and the poetry is lovely. 4 stars because there is one poem in the middle of the book (Egret) that drops G** D*** right in the middle. There is nothing else in the book even mildly offensive so that felt like a blindside. Be forewarned if you’re reading it aloud!
Profile Image for Ruth.
403 reviews18 followers
October 17, 2020
What a gorgeous book! I definitely will re-read this plenty of times.
The book itself it a hardcover, with a ribbon, and very beautiful watercolour paintings of nature - trees, birds, moths, flowers, and animals. The poetry and writing in it makes for delightful reading. This is a lush book, great for many of the senses. It's recommended to read it aloud, out in nature, and where you might possibly see and hear some of the animals that come to life within its pages.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 731 reviews

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